England have called up Kent fast bowler Amjad Khan and Essex allrounder Ravi Bopara as cover for the injured Andrew Flintoff in the West Indies. Flintoff struggled with a hip injury on the fourth day of the Antigua Test, batting at No. 9 and bowling only three overs in West Indies' second innings before going off the field although he may still bowl on the final day.
"They are coming because Fred has hurt himself and will be here as soon as possible," Andy Flower, the England coach, said. "People will have seen yesterday that he cannot move properly because of some problem in his hip.
"There is a limit to how much we know about the injury at this stage but he is going to give bowling a go," Flower added. "He is struggling to get it through at full pace but if we need him he will bowl."
It isn't just Flintoff's fitness for England that could be an issue, but also the IPL which he is due to take part in for three weeks after the tour having been signed for US$1.5million by Chennai Super Kings - the joint record fee alongside Kevin Pietersen.
However, Chennai are hopeful he will still be available for his stint. "There is still a while to go so hopefully he will be fit," VB Chandrasekar, director of cricket operations, told Cricinfo. "We hear there is not a definite diagnosis of his injury yet. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hope he will be available for the three weeks."
Chandrasekar confirmed that if Flintoff doesn't appear in the tournament he won't be paid. Flintoff may yet decide he needs to rest ahead of a busy summer that includes the Ashes and Chandresekar said Chennai would respect any such decision.
The fact that two players are needed to cover for Flintoff shows how important he is to the balance of the side. Amjad is yet to play for England, Bopara - who has also played 33 ODIs - has scored only 42 runs from his five Test innings, during the tour of Sri Lanka in 2007-08.
"This is great news for both Amjad and Kent," Simon Willis, the Kent coach, said. "He has looked sharp in the nets and is in good physical shape. He totally deserves his call-up and I am confident that he will do well."
Amjad, who was born in Denmark and gained a British passport in 2006, was part of England's squad during the tour of India in December 2008.
After the fourth's day play Steve Harmison said that Flintoff was really struggling with his hip. "What the problem is I think we'll have to wait until the end of the match," he said. "Where he goes from here nobody knows, but hopefully he can be fit for Barbados. But the big lad is in a bit of pain and it shows the character he has that he even attempted to go out on the field."
That hope over the Barbados Test now appears slim and England could again be forced to consider the balance of their team. He did, though, take part in some gentle bowling during the warm-ups as England tried to dodge the showers at the ARG.
This is the second injury setback for Flintoff on the tour after he suffered a slight side strain in the opening warm-up match against a St Kitts Invitational XI. He was withdrawn from that game as a precaution and didn't have any further cricket ahead of the first Test.
"We don't know what the injury is at this stage and an MRI scan will give us more information, Flower said. "The medical guys think there might be a little tear there, they're not sure, but it is a muscle problem in his hip."
Andrew Strauss said he was aiming to use Flintoff as more of a strike bowler in this series to manage his workload, but he still sent down 33 overs at Sabina Park.
Both Amjad and Bopara will travel from New Zealand, where they have been with the England Lions to the Caribbean. They are expected to arrive in time for the fourth Test, which begins in Barbados on February 26. Meanwhile, Kent seamer Robbie Joseph will join the England Lions in New Zealand as a replacement for Bopara and Amjad.